Rights group slams blocking of newspaper over state tax dodging investigation

An NGO has slammed Egyptian authorities for reportedly confiscating the issue of an independent newspaper after its front page bore a headline claiming state institutions are evading taxes.
Privately-owned Egyptian daily Al-Watan’s Wednesday issue had reportedly been blocked and the paper had to change its front page due to an investigative report placing the presidency and military among other state tax dodgers.
Local media reports said that the newspaper on Tuesday publicized the front page for its Wednesday issue, putting the headline at the top of the front page. 
“Twelve state bodies that do not pay taxes for its employees’ salaries”, read the headline at the very top of Al-Watan’s front page. “The Presidency, the General Intelligence Service, the ministries of interior and defense are at the forefront of tax evaders”, it added in its second line, noting that the failure by those institutions to fulfil their tax obligations costs the state LE7.9 billion in losses.
Local media said the newspaper was withheld at the printhouse until the editorial board replaced the front page with another featuring a report on the economic summit slated for this upcoming Friday.
The measure taken against the newspaper was “a flagrant aggression against the 2014 Constitution”, said HRDO Center, an Egypt-based NGO advocating media freedom and human rights. It said the confiscation of the newspaper violates constitutional stipulations that guarantee the freedom of sharing information. It also said that such measures boost corruption in contrast to official pledges to fight it.
The center demanded authorities to investigate the newspaper’s claims and to hold the alleged tax evaders responsible.
Al-Watan is owned by businessman Mohamed al-Amin, also the owner of the satellite channel CBC, a home to talk shows highly supportive of the President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi's government.

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